When personal beliefs and work collide, it can be a tricky situation. While discrimination on the grounds of religious belief is illegal, having fewer references to religious organisations may still boost your chances at getting a call back.
Photo by Flazingo
According to a study in The Southern Sociological Society, including any overt statements of religion in a resume resulted in 29% fewer email responses and 33% fewer phone calls. Their study found this to be consistent across all religions (including atheists, and even a fake religion called “Wallonians”), though some were obviously discriminated against more than others. The reason, the study’s authors speculated, is not that employers dislike a particular religion. Rather, they may simply believe that religious references are inappropriate in the workplace entirely:
We interpret our findings in light of four theories. First, following secularization theory, we hypothesized that overt statements of religious identity or beliefs on résumés would lead to fewer responses from employers. We found strong support for this hypothesis as résumés that mentioned any religious affiliation received 29 per cent fewer emails and 33 per cent fewer phone calls than the control group. This antireligious bias was not isolated to specific religions, for it applied to a fictitious religion as well — the Wallonians. Importantly, the secularization thesis does not require the absence of religion because, as the U.S. demonstrates, a secularized nation can still have a high rate of belief in God. Rather, secularization implies the declining influence of religion in everyday life and its disappearance from the public sphere. In the context of the workplace, it is possible that employers would view overt religious expression of any kind as potentially offensive to coworkers, clients, or customers and disruptive to the workplace. Thus, from the perspective of secularization theory, even atheists are penalised. Whether one professes overtly to be religious or irreligious, it violates the secular norm that one should not publicly display one’s religious preferences for all to see.
Aas this and other studies have noted, outlawing discrimination can’t always solve the problem. If you think you’ve been overlooked for a job because of your personal beliefs over someone else with differing views, that matter should be taken seriously. However, in terms of increasing your chances of finding a job, the more neutral your resume sounds, the better.